Arlene Koziol has been recording photographically the activities of the swallows living in the cliffs along the shoreline of Lake Mendota east of Raymer's Cove. These beautiful sandstone cliffs, with convenient cracks between ancient layers of sandstone, are popular with both Cliff Swallows and Barn Swallows. The Barn Swallows use mud and dried sticks and grass, almost the same materials our ancestors used to fill the empty spaces between the timbers of their early houses, to plaster their nest on the cliff sides. They place the opening of the nest just below a larger crevice in the cliff, cracks between layers of sandstone that form little caves. As the family grows up, often 5-6 nestlings, they take advantage of this extra space in the sheltered crevice.
Both parents feed the young, and sometimes even the offspring of previous brood help to rise the second batch of nestlings. Flitting about the cliff wall and overhanging vegetation they feeds on a wide variety of insects, flies, beetles, wasps,and bugs; even wild bees, damsel flies and the occasional spider. Alll photos by Arlene Koziol
Hannah DePorter, UW Urban Wildlife student (in the course Sustainability from a non-human perspective taught by Trish O’Kane), is conducting the newest animal research project in the Preserve. Over the past few months she has regularly monitored the Great Horned Owls at Willow Creek and their recently hatched owlets. The newly installed birdcam (a wildlife motion triggered camera specialized for small birds and mammals), funded by the Friends of the Preserve, will make it possible to continue her research on the owls’ roosting activities.
Paul Noeldner, Lakeshore Nature Preserve Citizen Science and student research facilitator, and member of the Friends, wrote the proposal to obtain the necessary Preserve permit to install the self-contained battery operated camera. Hannah identified the owls favorite roost site on a limb of a large cottonwood tree near the Willow Creek outlet. On Monday, June 1, Sean Gere of Gere Tree Care, volunteered his services as a professional arborist and trainer, to install the new birdcam for observing the behavior of the owlets. He will also help with maintenance.
Adam Gundlach of the Preserve was at hand when the Sean Gere climbed the very high tree and strapped the camera to a branch identified by Hannah. All photographs of this exciting process are by John Kutzbach. The birdcam photos and project information will also be used to promote public and institutional support for Great Horned Owls and other native birds and wildlife on UW Campus and other urban settings. A great thank you to all involved, and we are looking forward to Hannah’s report on this study.
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors